The Storm: Before and After

Whomever pioneered the concept of the “calm before the storm” was probably highly observant of the weather, but definitely did not work retail.

I have always found that large-scale events in the B2C world begin long before the advertised dates, and that the preparation and planning stress often outstrips the challenges of the event itself. Perhaps that’s good in a way, as it allows the frenetic energy to dissipate so workers can settle down and concentrate on being effective and active when it matters most.

In my own work history, I’ve been a member of both large-scale store grand opening teams and (more recently) non-closure liquidations, and find the preparations similarly hectic and equally exhausting. The events themselves have very different tones, of course, but both involve high levels of attention to detail, energy expenditure, and precise time management. That’s a deadly combination that directly affects personal sanity and team morale, and can turn even the most even-tempered worker into a hair-triggered nail-biting workaholic (a.k.a. me).

Something new to my experience is the difference in post- event recuperation. After a grand opening event, the store begins normal, day-to-day operations very quickly because it must, in order to establish solid working practices that will continue into the future. But an established business that essentially interrupts itself to run a special event seems to take a different kind of recovery approach, where things return slowly to normal and any changes are integrated into daily routine over a period of time.

From my perspective, special events provide some of the best, most concentrated forms of high-intensity training: when you’re forced to learn, adapt, and think quickly and efficiently, you can apply those skills to future work in a way that can only enhance effectiveness. I have certainly acquired new skills and polished old ones during the aforementioned recent event, particularly related to stress management, task prioritizing, and delegation (my coworkers are rockstars**, for the record). Nobody enjoys learning that you can’t do it all on your own, but the lesson is certainly a lasting one.

With this experience behind me, I can finally focus on the next big event in my career: attending my first industry show! At the moment I’m every combination of excited/nervous/anticipatory/stressed/didImentionexcited, but most of all I’m humbled by the opportunity and grateful to the people who are allowing me the chance to reach a goal I’ve held for quite a while.

I love me some terrible puns, and one of my favorites that I like to tell customers is how multifaceted this job and industry can be (oh c’mon, it’s funny!). But joking aside, the many and varied jobs-within-jobs are what keep me glued to this work. And though I may be occasionally convinced that it will kill me, I love it just the same.

**Rockstars. Get it? Get it??!! 🙂

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